1:36 PM PT -- We just got DJ Paul at LAX, and he tells our photog he hopes Nicki is just taking a hiatus. The Three 6 Mafia rapper says Nicki's one of his favorite artists, and he believes she's following a long line of hip-hop stars who retired only to eventually return to making music.
DJ Paul tells us why Nicki reminds him of Jim Carrey ... and sends her a message about the downside of sitting at home with a huge pile of money.
Nicki Minaj says she's leaving the music biz ... she's decided to retire because HER family's the next priority.
The rapper made the stunning announcement in a Thursday morning tweet ... saying she's gonna retire because she's ready to become a mom. She wrote, "I've decided to retire & have my family. I know you guys are happy now. To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me, X in the box- cuz ain't nobody checkin me. Love you for LIFE."
Nicki seems to be saying 2 things ... 1. that she wants to become a mom, and 2. that she's sick of the trolls.
What's not clear ... is she blowing off steam or is this the real deal?
If Nicki's in fact done with the rap game ... she leaves behind a storied legacy. The pride of Trinidad and Tobago and Queens earlier this year became the first female rapper to officially sell 100 million units across her albums, singles and features as certified by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Nicki's been nominated for 10 Grammys, earned a Guinness World Record in 2017 for most Billboard Hot 100 entries by a solo female artist and hauled in five MTV Video Music Awards. It's unclear if retirement means she's also done with the popular "Queen Radio" show.